By Army Staff Sgt. Aaron Giannini
Special to American Forces Press Service
Aug. 3, 2009 - Over the past month, soldiers of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, have been learning new skills and taking on new challenges as they adapt to a different mission in Iraq. Rather than combat, the soldiers have been working hand in hand with provincial reconstruction teams that are assisting Iraqis as they build key infrastructures in Dhi Qar, Maysan and Muthanna provinces. The soldiers provide security while reconstruction team members work to improve conditions in this war-torn country.
"Working with the [provincial reconstruction team] has been pretty meaningful, just knowing that we are helping to build a new Iraq," said Army 1st Lt. Christopher Mitchell, platoon leader.
The soldiers provide security for the team's officials and construction units that are helping the Iraqis construct schools, clinics and other facilities. These projects will help Iraq transition into a more self-sustaining nation.
"Helping to rebuild a whole country, that's something I will remember for my whole life," said Army Pvt. Joshua Cheney, a member of Able's Blue Platoon.
In addition to their security mission, Able Company soldiers also have been interacting with local residents and leaders, gaining valuable insight into local customs and culture.
"Getting to interact with the local people has been a rare experience," said Army Spc. Robert Counts, a medic from Millington, Tenn.
(Army Staff Sgt. Aaron Giannini serves with the 1st Armored Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team.)